Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS6882984 B1
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 09/325,536
Publication dateApr 19, 2005
Filing dateJun 4, 1999
Priority dateJun 4, 1999
Fee statusPaid
Also published asUS7499887, US7676429, US8645265, US20050154663, US20060167782, US20100121762, US20130346289, US20140019332, WO2000075831A1
Publication number09325536, 325536, US 6882984 B1, US 6882984B1, US-B1-6882984, US6882984 B1, US6882984B1
InventorsKevin Boyle, Marty Maistre
Original AssigneeBank One, Delaware, National Association
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Credit instrument and system with automated payment of club, merchant, and service provider fees
US 6882984 B1
Abstract
An apparatus and methods for a card that allows a cardholder to set up auto-charge payment of dues and fees to a series of clubs, merchants or service providers. The card also may be used for other transactions that accept credit cards. The apparatus includes a database containing information of the associated clubs, merchants and service providers, so that applicants and cardholders can easily configure auto-charging for multiple business concerns in one sitting. The apparatus may process auto-charge transactions in an automated fashion without requiring a cardholder to submit payment authorization or the business concern to submit a charge for each payment. Inconvenience and administrative costs to the cardholder and the business concern are reduced. The system and method provide a competitive advantage to the associated business concerns to secure the initial account and then to maintain it. The system and method encourages card loyalty of both the card members and the business concerns to the card provider.
Images(9)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(37)
1. A credit card processing system for allowing a cardholder to automatically charge fees to a club, merchant or service provider, comprising:
credit card capable of charging point of sale transactions to be posted on a cardholder's account;
said credit card having encoded information thereon that associates the cardholder with a plurality of clubs, merchants or service providers for which automated charge transaction requests are initiated by the card provider without requiring the cardholder or the plurality of clubs, merchants or service providers to submit payment authorization or payment requests to the card provider, for each automated charge;
a card issuer database for storing information that identifies the plurality of clubs, merchants, or service providers associated with the cardholder, and that further provides payment information for each associated club, merchant, or service provider;
a card processor for performing the automated charge transaction requests which are for payments due by the cardholder to the clubs, merchants, or service providers in consideration for services or goods;
the card processor accessing the association information and the payment information in the card issuer database in order to perform the automated charge transactions;
the card processor performing the automated charge transaction requests to result in funds being charged to the cardholder's credit account and funds being credited to an account of a third party comprising one or more accounts of the clubs, merchants, and service providers;
the card issuer database further storing information of at least one partner that is affiliated with the plurality of clubs, merchants, or service providers;
wherein said credit card is affiliated with a predetermined credit network and issuer, and is accepted for purchases anywhere the predetermined credit network is accepted for purchases.
2. The credit card processing system of claim 1, wherein said encoded information is of an account number that is correlated by the credit card processing system to said plurality.
3. The credit card processing system of claim 2, wherein said cardholder's account is automatically updated to reflect said automated charges by said credit card processing system.
4. The credit card processing system of claim 1, wherein said encoded information includes account information, and further includes additional information which identifies one or more said plurality of clubs, merchants or service providers for use as an admission pass.
5. The credit card processing system of claim 1, wherein the card provider comprises the card issuer, a bank, or combination thereof.
6. The credit card processing system of claim 1, wherein the automated charge transaction requests are submitted as on-us transactions which avoid an interchange.
7. The credit card processing system of claim 1, wherein the card provider processes automatic charge transaction requests in batch transactions for a plurality of different cardholders and a plurality of different clubs, merchants, or service providers.
8. A server-based system for processing auto-charges for one or more clubs, merchants or service-providers, comprising:
a server adapted to interface with user systems for receiving applications and enabling processing of auto-charge transactions for credit accounts;
a monetary processor system for processing point of sale transactions submitted over an interchange;
a dues processor system for processing auto-charges;
a database containing information of a plurality of cardholders including information associating specific cardholders with specific clubs, merchants, or service providers, and further including information describing charges to be processed automatically for associated clubs, merchants or service-providers;
the server based system initiating the auto-charge transactions on behalf of the cardholders and the plurality of clubs, merchants, or service providers by accessing the association information from the database, such that the plurality of clubs, merchants, or services providers do not have to submit a charge request for each transaction and the cardholder does not have to submit authorization for each transaction;
the auto-charge transactions being processed for payments due by cardholders to clubs, merchants, or service providers in consideration for services or goods;
the auto-charge transactions being processed to result in funds being charged to the cardholder's credit account and funds being credited to an account of a third party comprising one or more accounts of the clubs, merchants, or service providers; and
the database further storing information of at least one partner that is affiliated with the plurality of clubs, merchants, or service providers.
9. The system of claim 8, further comprising a report processor system for generating reports of account activity.
10. The system of claim 8, further comprising a transaction processor for accessing said database to determine if a transaction request is to be authorized.
11. The system of claim 8, wherein said database further contains information identifying the at least one common partner that is associated with the plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein said partner is a branch of the military.
13. The system of claim 12, wherein said database contains information identifying one or more installations or bases of said partner.
14. The system of claim 12, wherein said database is a fully relational database allowing a cardholder to be transferred from one installation or base to another installation or base so that the cardholder can be associated with clubs, merchants, and service providers available at the new installation or base based on the cardholder's association with clubs, merchants, or service providers at the old installation or base without having to enter all of the new association information.
15. The system of claim 11, wherein said partner is a university or college.
16. The system of claim 11, wherein the server adapted to interface with user systems for receiving applications provides information identifying the specific plurality of clubs, merchants or service providers associated with a specific partner so that the cardholder or a cardholder applicant can select one or more of the clubs, merchants, or service providers for auto-charging in one sitting.
17. The system of claim 8, wherein the auto-charges are not submitted through a credit card interchange.
18. The system of claim 8, wherein the database of cardholder information is accessible by a card provider which issues the credit cards, and is further accessible by the partner or a base or installation of the partner such that the partner or base or installation of the partner can make changes to the database for the cardholders associated with that partner.
19. The server-based system of claim 8, wherein at least one of the monetary processor system and the dues processor system is adapted to process a transaction submitted by a club, merchant, or service provider, that provides payment against the credit card balance of a particular cardholder.
20. A server-based networked system for processing auto-charges for cardholders associated with a plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers, comprising:
a server for receiving applications, processing point of sale transactions and processing auto-charges for a plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers associated with a plurality of credit account cardholders, wherein the auto-charges comprise transaction requests initiated by the server;
a credit card database accessible by the server which associates specific cardholders with specific ones of the plurality of clubs, merchants, and service providers, and which includes auto-charge payment information for associated clubs, merchants, and service providers;
the server processing the auto-charges by accessing the association information from the credit card database, the auto-charges comprising payments due by a cardholder to the associated clubs, merchants, or service providers in consideration for services or goods, and resulting in funds being charged to the cardholder's credit account and funds being credited to the account of a third party comprising one or more accounts of the clubs, merchants, or service providers;
a plurality of user systems for submitting applications;
a network interfacing said server and said plurality of user systems;
the server initiating the auto-charges such that the plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers are not required to submit a payment request for each auto-charge or the cardholders to submit payment authorization for each auto-charge; and
the database further storing information of at least one partner that is affiliated with the plurality of clubs, merchants, or service providers.
21. The system of claim 20, wherein at least one of said user systems is located at a military base.
22. The system of claim 20, wherein at least one of said user systems is located at a university or college.
23. The system of claim 20, wherein the database is accessible by a card provider which issues the credit cards, and is further accessible by the partner or a base or installation of the partner such that the partner or base or installation of the partner can make changes to the database for the cardholders associated with that partner.
24. The server-based system of claim 20, wherein the server is further adapted to process a transaction submitted by a club, merchant, or service provider, that provides payment against the credit card balance of a particular cardholder.
25. A computer-implemented method for providing a credit card system that processes auto-charges on behalf of cardholders and credits clubs, merchants or service-providers, comprising:
providing a credit card processing system having a database of cardholder account data;
including in said database information of a plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers agreeing to auto-charging of dues or fees;
entering data including payment information in said database for an applicant or cardholder associating the applicant or cardholder with a plurality of selected clubs, merchants or service-providers which are to be issued funds automatically without the one or more clubs, merchants or service-providers submitting a payment request for each due or fee and without the cardholder providing payment authorization for each due or fee;
initiating the auto-charge transaction requests by accessing the association data in the database;
issuing the funds automatically by the credit card processing system initiating the auto-charge transaction requests, the transaction requests being for payments due by the cardholder to the associated clubs, merchants, or service providers, in consideration for services or goods, the auto-charge transaction requests resulting in funds being charged to the cardholder's credit account and funds being credited to an account of a third party comprising one or more accounts of the clubs, merchants, or service providers; and
including in said database information associating said plurality of clubs, merchants or service providers with at least one common partner.
26. The method of claim 25, wherein said step of entering data includes entry of information describing at least one of the frequency and date of the funds to be issued.
27. The method of claim 26, wherein said step of entering data includes entry of information describing the amount of funds to be issued.
28. The method of claim 26, further comprising the step of batch processing a plurality of transaction requests based on said data.
29. The method of claim 25, wherein the auto-charge transaction requests are submitted as on-us transactions which avoid an interchange.
30. The method of claim 25, wherein the database is accessible by a card provider which issues the credit cards, and is further accessible by the partner or a base or installation of the partner such that the partner or base or installation of the partner can make changes to the database for the cardholders associated with that partner.
31. The computer-implemented method of claim 25, further comprising the step of processing a transaction submitted by a club, merchant, or service provider, that provides payment against the credit card balance of a particular cardholder.
32. A computer-implemented method of automatically processing a series of transaction requests based on information in a database for a plurality of cardholders which describes a plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers to be paid automatically, comprising:
a credit card provider periodically searching a database to identify a plurality of cardholders who are to be charged a fee or due by one or more clubs, merchants or service-providers without the one or more clubs, merchants or service-providers submitting a payment request for each fee or due and without the cardholders having to submit payment authorizations for each fee or due;
the database including information that associates specific cardholders with specific ones of the plurality of clubs, merchants, and service providers, and that further includes payment information;
generating a batch of transaction requests based on said step of searching, wherein the transaction requests are for payments due by cardholders to associated clubs, merchants, or service providers in consideration for services or goods;
submitting said batch to a transaction processor; and
updating the accounts of said plurality of cardholders based on results reported by said transaction processor, the batch resulting in funds being charged to cardholders' credit accounts and finds being credited to one or more accounts of third parties comprising the clubs, merchants, and service providers; and
wherein said plurality of clubs, merchants or service providers are associated with at least one common partner.
33. The method of claim 32, further comprising the step of automatically transferring funds to a club, merchant or service-provider based on said results.
34. The method of claim 33, wherein said club, merchant or service-provider is located on a military base or installation.
35. The method of claim 32, wherein the database includes information associating a base or installation with specific ones of the plurality of clubs, merchants, or service providers, and further comprising the step of automatically transferring funds to the base or installation associated with said plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein at least one club, merchant or service-provider of said plurality of clubs, merchants or service-providers is located on a military base or installation.
37. The method of claim 32, wherein the database is accessible by the card provider which issues the credit cards, and further comprising the step of the partner or a base or installation of the partner accessing the database to make changes for the cardholders associated with that partner or base or installation of the partner.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a system and method for providing credit instruments whereby the credit processing system is preconfigured with a series of participating clubs, merchants, or service providers such that an applicant can provide for automated payment of dues and fees without having to engage in a separate transaction with each club, merchant or service provider.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is increasingly common that consumers pay for many of their expenses using credit cards, bankcards or like instruments rather than using cash or checks. Consumers do this because they find it more convenient that sending cash or checks. Using credit cards in this fashion is also desirable because the consumer can borrow using his/her credit card when personal funds are low, and also because an itemized list of payments is generated each month.

Some clubs, merchants or service providers may require fixed payments on a periodic basis, such as weekly, monthly, semi-annually, and so forth. In the case of a club, such as a health club, a consumer may be required to send dues each month. Using a credit card, the consumer may send in a payment slip each month with the credit card number, expiration date and a signature authorizing the charge to the consumer's credit card. Or the consumer may call the club's place of business to give like information verbally over the phone. Or the consumer may contact the club to give like information using a home computer accessing the Internet.

In each case the consumer is relieved of the inconvenience of sending cash, checks or the equivalent. Yet in each case the consumer still must initiate the transaction each month by mail, telephone or computer. For the customer associated with a number of clubs requiring periodic payments, this may involve a significant number of transactions for the consumer to initiate each week or month. Moreover, since payment due dates may differ for each club, the consumer cannot make the overall task more efficient by doing all the payments at once unless he/she is willing to pay some bills early or some bills late. Thus, this approach to paying bills using a credit instrument has significant shortcomings for the consumer.

From the perspective of the club, processing credit card information is advantageous since processing tends to be easier than for checks. However, there are still significant shortfalls. The club must await the submission of payment from the consumer for each cycle. Sometimes consumers will be late in contacting the club to submit their credit card information. Sometimes communication lapses will result in incorrect information being submitted to the club, such as when the consumer fills in the wrong credit card information or a customer service representative misunderstands information given over the telephone.

And even when no such difficulties arise, the club still must initiate the transaction with the card provider by submitting a separate charge for each consumer on each payment cycle. For a club having hundreds or thousands of members, this may entail the initiation of hundreds or thousands of charges at different times. This is a significant disadvantage because of the time and costs imposed on the club. Additionally, charges may be imposed on the club and/or the card provider when an interchange processor is contacted for each transaction initiated by the club. Additionally, there may be communications difficulties in contacting a card provider bank or interchange to submit the charge, such as when a direct-dial connection fails or an Internet or like computer network connection fails.

Sometimes a consumer will give a club permission to bill his/her credit card on an ongoing basis so that the consumer does not have to initiate payment each cycle. While this may lighten the burden on the consumer somewhat, it does not eliminate the burden on the club, which still must submit a charge to the consumer's credit card each cycle. Moreover, the consumer must still engage in an initial transaction with each club, merchant or service provider, to grant this authorization to bill the consumer's credit card on a periodic basis. For the consumer wishing to give such authorization to multiple clubs, merchants or service providers, a series of separate transactions must be undertaken. This is a significant shortcoming.

Other problems and drawbacks also exist.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

For these and like reasons, what is desired is a system and method of providing a credit card system that is associated with a series of clubs, merchants, service providers or the like so that a fully automated payment of dues or fees can be effectuated with minimal transactions.

Accordingly, it is one object of the present invention to overcome one or more of the aforementioned and other limitations of existing systems and methods for payment of fees or dues using a credit instrument.

It is another object of the invention to provide a credit instrument that is pre-associated with a series of clubs, merchants or service providers so that a cardholder can authorize automated payment for multiple business concerns in a single transaction with the card provider.

It is another object of the invention to provide such a credit instrument where the information for multiple business concerns is stored at a credit system processor so that the creation of automated payment agreements for a consumer for a plurality of such business concerns is easily effectuated.

It is another object of the invention to provide a credit instrument application system where an applicant is solicited to join clubs and set up automated payment agreements at the same time the application is being processed so that a competitive marketing advantage is conferred on the associated business concerns.

It is another object of the invention to provide such a credit instrument associated with a series of business concerns such that a competitive advantage is conferred on the associated business concerns because the cardholder is encouraged to maintain the accounts therewith.

It is another object of the invention to provide such a credit instrument associated with a series of business concerns that provides a competitive advantage for the card provider by maximizing revenue and creating barriers to exit for both the associated business concerns and the cardholders.

To achieve these and other objects of the present invention, and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described, an embodiment of the present invention comprises an apparatus and method for a card that allows a cardholder to set up auto-charge payment of dues and fees to a series of clubs, merchants or service providers. The card also may be used for other transactions that accept credit cards. The system includes a database containing information of the associated clubs, merchants and service providers, so that applicants and cardholders can easily configure auto-charging for multiple business concerns in one sitting. The system may then process auto-charge transactions in an automated fashion without requiring a cardholder to submit payment authorization or the business concern to submit a charge for each periodic payment. Inconvenience and administrative costs to the cardholder and the business concerns are greatly reduced. The system and method provide a competitive advantage to the associated business concerns to secure the initial account and then to retain it. The system and method encourages card loyalty of both the card members and the business concerns to the card provider.

The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute part of this specification, illustrate several embodiments of the invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. It will become apparent from the drawings and detailed description that other objects, advantages and benefits of the invention also exist.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description that follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objectives and other advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the system and methods, particularly pointed out in the written description and claims hereof as well as the appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The purpose and advantages of the present invention will be apparent to those of skill in the art from the following detailed description in conjunction with the appended drawings in which like reference characters are used to indicate like elements, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the credit card processing system according to an embodiment of the invention, including the network, central server system, user systems, credit card database and various processor systems.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating an exemplary partner and associated clubs, merchants or service providers.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating data that may be stored by the system for various partners.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating data that may be stored in the system for installations corresponding to an associated partner.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating data that may be stored in the system for a club, merchant or service provider.

FIG. 6 is a block diagram according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating data that may be stored in the system for auto-charging dues or fees for a club, merchant or service provider.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram according to an embodiment of the invention illustrating data that may be stored in the system for a member or cardholder.

FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a method, according to an embodiment of the invention, for a card provider to provide an auto-charge feature to cardholders for associated clubs, merchants and service providers.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating a method, according to an embodiment of the invention, for a user of the system to process an application on behalf of an applicant, including the selection of auto-charge options for associated clubs, merchants and service providers.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart illustrating a method, according to an embodiment of the invention, for the system to execute batch processing of auto-charge fees or dues for cardholders who have selected the auto-charge option for clubs, merchants or service providers.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As discussed in the Summary of the Invention, the present invention is directed to a method and apparatus for a credit instrument that supports auto-charging to clubs, merchants and service providers.

The auto-charge feature of the card can be used to automatically charge dues and fees to a cardholder's account for clubs, merchants, service providers and other business concerns. As can be appreciated by those skill in the art, the inventive concept is well-adapted to setting up auto-charging when there is an ongoing relationship between the cardholder and the business concern, such as a health club, where payments are to be made each month. For the sake of clarity and brevity of this detailed description, the explanation of the invention shall be discussed in terms of associated “clubs,” although it is to be understood that this also embraces merchants, service providers and other business concerns.

Additionally, the description will refer to “partners.” Partners may be entities that are associated with a number of clubs, such as a university or military branch. A partner may provide data to a card provider of a number of clubs so that applicants (e.g., students or alumni or service members) can easily join up and set up auto-charge arrangements therewith. By “partnering” with the card provider, both the partner and the card provider derive benefits of bringing the plurality of clubs into the system. Of course, those of skill in the art will recognize that the benefits of the system can be derived where there are no partners, i.e., where clubs become participants in the system without an intermediate partner.

Overview of the System

FIG. 1 depicts an overview of the system, according to an embodiment of the present invention, including central server system 100; network 150; user systems 105; credit card database module 110; non-monetary business processor system 115; report processor system 120; application processor system 125; credit bureau data module 130; monetary processor system 135; dues processor system 140; and transaction processor system 145.

Central server system 100 may comprise a server system for receiving applications, maintaining a database, processing transactions and interfacing with user systems over network 150. Generally, central server system 100 includes hardware and software for supporting system administration, database management, application and transaction processing, report generation, and network-related operations. In one embodiment, control server system 100 may interface with user systems 105 over the Internet or like packet-switched networks. In such an embodiment, central server system 100 may have software to support graphical user interface (GUI) with user systems 105 through browser pages or the like (e.g., incorporating HTML or XML mark-up language) so that users need little or no specialized hardware or software.

Central server system 100 may use server hardware running Microsoft NT™ and using Oracle v. 7.3.4 for database operations. Central server system 100 may support network related operations using software such as Weblogic™ v.3.1 for Unix. Software for processing transactions and applications is well known in the art and, for example, may be programmed in high level languages such as C++. Central server system 100 may be a secure system employing encryption technology, such as 128 bit SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption, to protect data transmitted over the network. Central server system 100 may also require a user name and password for a party to access the system over network 150. Central server system 100 may support interface with user systems 105 through the application of servlets and/or applets, know to those of skill in the art, for supporting a substantially platform independent interface with users who have “standard” computer hardware and software.

User systems 105 may comprise any system capable of interfacing with server system 100 over network 150. User systems 105 may comprise “standard” computer systems that do not require specialized hardware or software to interface with central server system 100. User systems 105 may comprise personal computers, microcomputers, minicomputers, portable electronic devices, a computer network or other system operable to send and receive data through network 150. In one embodiment, user systems 05 may comprise a personal computer running Windows NT™ and Microsoft Internet Explorer™ 4.0.

Network 150 may comprise any network that allows communications amongst the components, and may encompass existing or future network technologies, such as the existing “Internet,” “World Wide Web,” Wide Area Network, “Internet Protocol-Next Generation” (Ipng) and like technologies. In one embodiment, network 150 comprises the Internet so that user systems 105 can access central server system 100 as a web site and interface therewith using standard browser pages.

Credit card database module 110 represents the storage media employed to store data for the system. Credit card database module 110 may be one or more physically distinct media, such as hard drives, floppy drives, CD-ROM and other existing or future storage technologies supporting ready access. Credit card database module 110 may store the account data for the system, such as transactions data, partner data (to be discussed further below), installation data (to be discussed further below), club data, auto-charge data, member data and so forth. Generally, this module stores records of member accounts (e.g., for posting charges and payments), records of associated partners and clubs, and records of auto-charge data.

Application processor system 125 is for processing credit card applications for the cards. Application processor 125 may communicate with credit bureau data module 130 for retrieving and evaluating information of an applicant's credit-worthiness in order to accept or deny an application. Application processor 125 may process applicant information submitted by an applicant through user system 105 and report results back to central server system 100, which may add the applicant to credit card database module 110 if an applicant is approved.

Report processor system 120 may extract data from the database (e.g., credit card database module 110) for reports to be generated periodically or by request. Report processor system 120 may present such reports as browser or like pages to user systems 105. In one embodiment, report processor 120 comprises Crystal Info™ software as the reporting engine. In one embodiment, report processor system 120 can be accessed over the Internet by users such as partners and/or clubs to retrieve information regarding partner club affiliation, club membership, account status and the like.

Non-monetary business processor system 115 may be a processing module supporting central server system 100 so that users can change certain information stored in credit card database module 110. A “user” generally refers to a party that is authorized to access central server system 100. In one embodiment, where a military branch is a partner, each base or installation may have a user authorized to accept applications and modify system data, such as changing the address of a cardholder stored in credit card database module 110. Generally, the card provider may have a plurality of persons authorized as users. In one embodiment, there is a plurality of levels of authorization for users, such that a card provider user may have access to all data, a partner user may have access only to that data pertaining to that partner, and a cardholder user may have access only to that data pertaining to the cardholder's account.

Monetary processor system 135 may comprise a module for submitting charges to a cardholder's account, such as charges, payments and adjustments. Monetary processor system 135 may submit a charge request, such as a merchant number, terminal ID, account number, charge amount and current date, to transaction processor system 145. Monetary processor system 135 is generally capable of operating in nominal real time so that charge requests are submitted for processing as they are received. In one embodiment, monetary processor system 135 is capable of processing so-called “on-us” charges submitted directly to the system (e.g., submitted directly to the card provider or bank) and so-called “not-on-us” charges submitted through an interchange (e.g., a Visa™ or MasterCard™ interchange, well known to those of skill in the art). Generally, monetary processor system 135 processes charges other than the auto-charges, such as merchant charges, adjustments, cardholder payments, and the like.

Dues processor system 140 prepares charge requests associated with auto-charge fees or dues. Dues processor system 140 generally processes “on-us” charges so that contacting an interchange is not required. Dues processor 140 will periodically (e.g., daily) determine the auto-charge payments required for cardholders. A set of transactions is prepared for “batch processing” and the transactions may be sent to transaction processor 145 as a group. In one embodiment, dues processor system 140 is also capable of preparing transactions from external files received, for example, from a utility on a daily basis. This function is similar to the auto-charge feature for clubs and the like, except the amount of each transaction may vary based on the data received from the external file. In another embodiment, dues processor system 140 is capable of preparing “special club” transactions, such as processing charges submitted based on a merchant code set up in the system for the “general's party” or like special occasion amenable to having charges submitted and processed in a group fashion.

Transaction processor system 145 processes the transactions for the system. Generally, transaction processor receives transaction requests, accesses an account database (see, e.g., credit card database module 110) and determines if the transaction is authorized or declined. Based on the result, the pertinent card member account and merchant account is updated as appropriate. In one embodiment, a transaction request may comprise a merchant number, terminal ID (identifying the terminal submitting the request), account number, charge amount, and current date. Several categories of merchant numbers may be available to identify the merchant and the nature of the transaction request. These categories may include dues billing, dues adjustment, special event, recurring charge (e.g., external file from a utility submitted on a daily basis), payment or other. A transaction request, as described above, may be submitted to transaction processor system 145, which may return a six-digit authorization code, a decline code, a decline and confiscate message or a call bank message. The transaction processor 145 or central server system 100 may post the result to the card member's account and transfer any payment to a club account (such as a direct deposit transaction).

Partners

FIG. 2 illustrates the concept of partners for the system. Partner 200 may be a military branch that is associated with a series of clubs such as garden club 205, officer's club 210, health club 215 and other clubs, merchants or service providers 220. More generally, a partner may comprise a business concern, group or association that itself is associated with a series of clubs or the like. For example, a partner may be a university or military branch that wishes to have data of its various clubs and the like entered onto the system so that students, alumni, or military personnel can readily join clubs and set up auto-charge payment arrangements. The benefits from such an arrangement to the card provider, partner and clubs are substantial.

As previously noted, the system can operate and provide substantial benefits without intermediate partners. Yet, it can be appreciated that the benefits and efficiencies may be maximized when the card provider has an arrangement with an intermediate partner associated with a number of constituent clubs.

Data in Credit Card Database 110

FIGS. 3-7 illustrate the types of data that may be stored in credit card database module 110. As those of skill in the art can appreciate, the allocation of the data types is functional and descriptive. Credit card database module 110 may be a fully relational database so that each data type can be associated with other data types as appropriate.

FIG. 3 illustrates the partner data that may be stored. In this exemplary embodiment, partner data includes Air Force 300, Army 305, Navy 310, State University 315 and other partners 320. Each represents a partner with whom the card provider is associated.

FIG. 4 illustrates the various “installations” in the system. An installation refers to a physical location of a partner that has a plurality of locations. In the military paradigm, an installation may correspond to a base. For example, for a Navy partner, the installations may include Navy Base Norfolk 400, Navy Base Washington D.C. 405, Navy Base Cecil Field 410, and other partner bases 415. By including installation data, the system can provide the appropriate club data for each base. For example, when a new recruit applies for a card at Navy Base Norfolk 400, the system may provide the appropriate list of clubs. When the new recruit is transferred to Navy Base Washington D.C. 405, the new recruit member data is easily “transferred” or reassigned to the new base without re-entering all of his/her data. Such installation data is also useful to the partner for evaluating billings per installation or club membership per installation.

FIG. 5 illustrates the club (or merchant or service provider, etc.) data that may be stored in credit card database module 110. In this exemplary embodiment, for a club there may be partner 500 (identifying the partner the club is associated with), merchant code(s) 505, name 510 (name of the club), type 515 (e.g., identifying whether the entity is a club, merchant, service provider, utility, etc.), address/phone 520, manager name 525 and installation ID 530 (identifying the installation). Regarding merchant code(s) 505, a club may be assigned several merchant codes to cover different types of transactions, such as dues and dues adjustment.

FIG. 6 illustrates the auto-charge data that may be stored in credit card database module 110. This data may be stored for a club to provide the various options for the auto-charge feature of the system. This way when a card member decides that he/she would like to automatically pay the officer's club, the appropriate data for that club is present in the system. In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 6, the auto-charge data comprises description 605 (describing the club and/or nature of the auto-charge), frequency 610 (describing the frequency of payment such as daily, monthly, quarterly, etc.), ID 615 (identifying the club), installation/lump fee 620 (whether the club will accept installations or requires lump fees), cancellation policy 625 (explaining cancellation policy of the club), refund policy 630 (explaining the refund policy of the club), promotional rates 635 (providing promotional rates for, e.g., new members, or differential rate structures depending on rank or other personal characteristics), and price/fee 640 (price or fee for the club).

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the data that may be stored in credit card database module 110 for the cardholders. Cardholder data may comprise auto-charge data 700, which may further comprise frequency 705, number of payments 710, amount 715, and date 717 (provides date of the auto-charge payment, e.g., the 19th of each month). Auto-charge data 700 may have an entry for each club the cardholder is paying using the auto-charge feature. Military 720 lists data for a card member in the military, such as name/address 725, phone 730, status 735 (e.g., retired, active duty or reserve), rank 740, and agent code 745 (identifies the installation to which the cardholder belongs). The cardholder data may further comprise card number 750, member ID 755 (e.g., may be social security number), merchant codes 760 (identifies clubs/merchants/service providers that the cardholder is associated with), and other account data 770. In one embodiment, merchant codes 760 is also stored on the card so that the card not only supports normal credit card applications and the auto-charge capability, but can also function as a “door pass” that members may use to gain entry or authorization for clubs.

Graphical User Interfaces for the System

In one embodiment, central server system 100 interfaces with user systems 105 over the Internet or like packet-switched network using a standard GUI interface, such as browser pages accessed over the World Wide Web.

In this embodiment, there is a log in page for an authorized user, who must provide a user name and password. In this embodiment, there is a so-called “home page” which includes options for member lookup (for locating members), application processing (for processing applications), member maintenance (for changing member data, such as an address or installation), batch processing (for batch financial transactions), reports (for preparing reports) and administration (for profiles, maintenance of installations, clubs, and merchants). In this embodiment, there may be an application browser page for submitting an application over the Internet.

Methods of Using the System

According to an embodiment of the present invention, a method is provided for a credit card system that is associated with a series of clubs, merchants, service providers or the like so that a fully automated payment of dues or fees can be effectuated. Referring to FIG. 8, a card provider reaches an agreement with a partner associated with a plurality of clubs, according to step 1200. The card provider then updates a database to include the partner and plurality of clubs, as in step 1205 (e.g., see FIGS. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). In one embodiment, a card provider reaches such an agreement with a military branch which then provides data describing installations and clubs that could be stored in a database such as credit card database module 110. The card provider and/or partner solicits applications for the credit instrument and invites the applicant to join various clubs and/or set up auto-charge arrangements, according to step 1210. For example, the new recruit is invited to apply for a card and also to join various clubs such as the Officer's Club and golf club, for which the auto-charge feature may be set up. According to step 1215, auto-charge data is entered into the processing system (e.g., see FIG. 7) for each member selecting the auto-charge feature for a club. Based on the auto-charge data entered for the members, the system processes charges automatically, according to step 1220. Charges are posted to the members' accounts, according to step 1225. In one embodiment, steps 1220 and 1225 may be processed as batch transactions, as previously discussed. In one embodiment, steps 1220 and 1225 are performed as “on-us” transactions so that interchange fees are avoided, providing savings to the card provider and/or partner and/or clubs. In step 1230, payment is issued to the partner or clubs. In one embodiment, payment is issued to the partner, such as to a military base, by automated direct deposit. In another embodiment, it may be provided that payment is issued directly to clubs.

According to an embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 9 depicts a method for processing an application for a credit card system that is associated with a plurality of clubs and that supports auto-charging. The user logs on to the system, as in step 1305, and the system authenticates the user, as in step 1310. In one embodiment, where the partner is a military branch, each installation or base may have an authorized user for accepting applications on behalf of service personnel. The user submits the applicant's name, address and other general data on behalf of the applicant, as in step 1315. The user requests whether the applicant wants to auto-charge certain clubs, as in step 1320. The user submits the applicant's auto-charge data, as in step 1325. The application is submitted to the application processor, as in step 1330 (e.g., see FIG. 1, application processor system 125). The application decision is returned to the user, as in step 1335. The credit card database is updated to include the applicant if the application is approved, as in step 1340 (e.g., see FIG. 1, credit card database module 110; FIG. 7).

According to an embodiment of the invention, FIG. 10 depicts a method of batch processing auto-charge dues or fees for the system. Referring to FIG. 10, the system (e.g., see FIG. 1, central server system 100) invokes the batch processing logic (e.g., see FIG. 1, dues processor system 140), according to step 1400. The server system builds a list of members at each installation or base, according to step 1405. The server system builds a list of clubs (for which the auto-charge option is enabled) for each member, according to step 1410. Central server system 100 obtains the dues or fees amount for each member, according to step 1415. The server system sends dues files (e.g., a batch of transaction requests) to transaction processor system 145 for authorization (e.g., see FIG. 1, transaction processor system 145), according to step 1420. The server system receives the results of the transaction requests, i.e., an authorization number or rejection for the transaction requests, as in step 1425. The server system posts the transactions to the members' accounts, as in step 1430. The server system transfers funds to club accounts, as in step 1435. The server system may then issue reports to partners on authorization failure/success and gross/net charges, as in step 1440.

Other embodiments and uses of this invention will be apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art upon consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. The specification and examples given should be considered exemplary only, and it is contemplated that the appended claims will cover any other such embodiments or modifications as fall within the true scope of the invention.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4700055Oct 15, 1985Oct 13, 1987Kashkashian Jr ArsenMultiple credit card system
US4988849Apr 8, 1988Jan 29, 1991Hitachi, Ltd.Financial transaction system
US5175416May 17, 1991Dec 29, 1992Mansvelt Andre PeterFunds transfer system
US5326959 *Aug 4, 1992Jul 5, 1994Perazza Justin JAutomated customer initiated entry remittance processing system
US5383113Jul 25, 1991Jan 17, 1995Checkfree CorporationSystem and method for electronically providing customer services including payment of bills, financial analysis and loans
US5465206 *Nov 1, 1993Nov 7, 1995Visa InternationalFunds transfer network
US5483445Oct 21, 1993Jan 9, 1996American Express TrsData processing system
US5513102 *Jun 28, 1994Apr 30, 1996Auriemma Consulting Group, Inc.Data processing methods of implementing an award to an authorized user of a credit card
US5530232Dec 22, 1993Jun 25, 1996Datamark Services, Inc.Multi-application data card
US5544246Sep 17, 1993Aug 6, 1996At&T Corp.Smartcard adapted for a plurality of service providers and for remote installation of same
US5590038Jun 20, 1994Dec 31, 1996Pitroda; Satyan G.Universal electronic transaction card including receipt storage and system and methods of conducting electronic transactions
US5649117Jun 3, 1994Jul 15, 1997Midwest Payment SystemsSystem and method for paying bills and other obligations including selective payor and payee controls
US5649118 *May 27, 1994Jul 15, 1997Lucent Technologies Inc.Smart card with multiple charge accounts and product item tables designating the account to debit
US5677955Apr 7, 1995Oct 14, 1997Financial Services Technology ConsortiumElectronic funds transfer instruments
US5692132Jun 7, 1995Nov 25, 1997Mastercard International, Inc.System and method for conducting cashless transactions on a computer network
US5699528Oct 31, 1995Dec 16, 1997Mastercard International, Inc.System and method for bill delivery and payment over a communications network
US5721781 *Sep 13, 1995Feb 24, 1998Microsoft CorporationAuthentication system and method for smart card transactions
US5770843Jul 2, 1996Jun 23, 1998Ncr CorporationIn a self-service kiosk
US5777306Apr 5, 1996Jul 7, 1998Nippon Shinpan Co., Ltd.Credit card system and method of using credit card with such credit card system
US5787404 *Nov 21, 1995Jul 28, 1998Fernandez-Holmann; ErnestoComputerized method for providing an investment fund
US5805719 *Mar 18, 1997Sep 8, 1998SmarttouchFor rapid search of previously stored biometric samples
US5852812Aug 23, 1995Dec 22, 1998Microsoft CorporationIn a computer network
US5859419Sep 28, 1995Jan 12, 1999Sol H. WynnProgrammable multiple company credit card system
US5883810Sep 24, 1997Mar 16, 1999Microsoft CorporationElectronic online commerce card with transactionproxy number for online transactions
US5920847 *Oct 7, 1996Jul 6, 1999Visa International Service AssociationElectronic bill pay system
US6003013 *May 29, 1998Dec 14, 1999Harrah's Operating Company, Inc.Customer worth differentiation by selective activation of physical instrumentalities within the casino
US6014636 *May 6, 1997Jan 11, 2000Lucent Technologies Inc.Point of sale method and system
US6041315 *Jun 19, 1997Mar 21, 2000Autoscribe CorporationAutomated payment system and method
US6065675 *Jun 29, 1998May 23, 2000Cardis Enterprise International N.V.Processing system and method for a heterogeneous electronic cash environment
US6091817 *Oct 24, 1997Jul 18, 2000Intellect Australia Pty Ltd.Host and user transaction system
US6095412 *Oct 24, 1997Aug 1, 2000Intellect Australia Pty Ltd.Host and user transaction system
US6119932 *Feb 18, 1997Sep 19, 2000Protech Video Security, Inc.Identification verification apparatus and method
EP0959440A2 *May 17, 1999Nov 24, 1999Citicorp Development Center, Inc.System and method for automated electronic scrip transactions
WO1994029112A1 *Jun 6, 1994Dec 22, 1994Moore Business Forms IncMagnetic card tickets for events
WO1999005633A1 *Jul 24, 1998Feb 4, 1999Main Street MarketingAutomated credit card payment system
Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1"Associates First Capital Corporation", Hoover's Inc., The Industry Standard: The Newsmagazine of the Internet Economy, thestandard.net/companies/cpmpany-display, Apr. 6, 1999.
2"The Evolution of a New Consumerism", Chain Storage Age, vol. 73, pp. 8-9, Jun. 1997.
3"Welcome to Swiftgift", Swiftgift, www.swiftgiftcard.com, Dec. 8, 1998.
4Antoinette Coulton, "Incentives field moving to card-based series 14", American Banker, Mar. 26, 1998.
5AT&T Marketing, "Universal card free lifetime membership extended 3 months", www.att.com/press/0297/970217,csa.html, Dec. 4, 1990.
6Beth Piskora, Debit Cards Seen Poised for New Markets, American Banker, pp. 16, Mar. 7, 1995.
7Boatmen's Floats Stored Value Into The Employee Incentive Waters, Debit Card News vol. 2, Issue 2, Jul. 16, 1996, printed Jul. 27, 1999, 3 pages.
8Business Travel News, "Maritz gets mastercard's stamp of approval", Aug. 19, 1996.
9Card News, vol. 6, No. 25, "D.C. Area Safeway stores look for increase in sales volume and revenue with cards", Dec. 1991.
10CardEx Incentives, Apr. 6, 1999, www.cardexco.com.
11Chain Store Age Executive with Shopping Center Age, "More retailers turn to co-branding", Feb. 1, 1995, 3 pages.
12Christine Dugas, Payroll May Ask: Paper or Plastic!, USA Today, 3B, Aug. 14, 2001.
13Credit Card News, "A store card issuer looks for lift from electronic gift certificates", Feb. 1, 1995.
14Emerson Brown and Jim Baum, Purchasing Card Magic: Eli Lilly Finds Accounts Payable Flying High With Plastic, Corporate Cashflow.
15First Union Issues Smart Cards to Fort Benning Recruits, CardFax.
16First USA Platinum Connect, First USA Bank, First USA Promotional Mailing, 10/97, 6 pages.
17Here's the calling convenience you asked for: 1-800-call-AT&T . . . For All Calls, :For Card Carriers, 7 pages.
18 *Hotchkiss, D Anne; "ATMs at the head of their class;" Bank Marketing, v29n3, pp:26-32; Mar. 1997.*
19International Preliminary Examination Report for Application No. PCT/USO1/03587 filed on Feb. 9, 2000 and dated Jul. 18, 2002, 7 pages.
20International Search Report for Application No. PCT/US01/03587 filed on Feb. 9, 2000 and dated Apr. 27, 2001, 4 pages.
21Introducing SpendingMoney(TM), Armetta: Marketing & Design Product Concept Report, Oct. 9, 1996, 15 pages.
22Introducing the First USA Platinum Connect Card, First USA Promotional Mailing, 12/97.
23Jeffrey M. Lacker, "Stored Value Cards: Costly Private Substitutions for Government Currency", Economic Quarterly, 1996.
24Lisa Fickenscher, "Amex prepaid offering is latest card for firms regarding employees", American Banker, vol. 161, No. 151, p. 11, Aug. 8, 1996.
25Lucy Lzarony, "Stuck for a gift? Give a prepaid credit card", www.bankrate.com, Dec. 21, 1998.
26Mickey Meece, "Boatman's prepaid cards for worker-incentive firm", American Banker, Jul. 2, 1996, 1 page.
27Miriam Krenin Souccar, Smart Cards: 1st Union Smart Card Pilot Enlists a Second Army Base, American Banker.
28Nick Rosen, Cash Just Isn't Flexible Enough: Shops of the Future Will Only Take Cards, Daily Express: Technology Section, Feb. 10, 1995.
29Phil Britt, Competing in Auto Lending, America's Community Banker, vol. 5, No. 11, pp. 33-37, Nov. 1, 1996.
30Spurgin, "Sopininmon! or What's happening in the retail credit card environment", Credit World Journal, Apr. 1997.
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7591419Aug 1, 2006Sep 22, 2009HSBC Card Services Inc.User selectable functionality facilitator
US7644035 *May 19, 2005Jan 5, 2010American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.Method and apparatus for reducing fraudulent credit transactions by requiring merchant return of multi-digit authorization codes
US8157165Jul 10, 2009Apr 17, 2012HSBC Card Services Inc.User selectable functionality facilitator
US8162208Feb 27, 2009Apr 24, 2012HSBC Card Services Inc.Systems and methods for user identification string generation for selection of a function
US8566240Aug 26, 2010Oct 22, 2013E2Interactive, Inc.Systems and methods for the payment of customer bills utilizing payment platform of biller
US8566242 *Nov 22, 2006Oct 22, 2013Ebay Inc.Network-based consumer transactions with credit accounts
Classifications
U.S. Classification705/35
International ClassificationG06Q30/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06Q30/02, G06Q40/00, G06Q20/02, G06Q20/14, G06Q20/04, G06Q20/102, G06Q40/025, G06Q20/40, G06K5/00, G06Q20/24, G06Q20/34
European ClassificationG06Q30/02, G06Q20/02, G06Q20/40, G06Q20/24, G06Q20/14, G06Q20/04, G06Q20/102, G06Q40/025, G06Q40/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 19, 2012FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 8
Oct 20, 2008FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4
Aug 23, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: BANK ONE, DELAWARE, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, DELAWARE
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:FIRST USA BANK, N.A.;REEL/FRAME:016662/0016
Effective date: 19990712
Jun 28, 2005CCCertificate of correction
Aug 12, 1999ASAssignment
Owner name: FIRST USA BANK, N.A., DELAWARE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BOYLE, KEVIN;MAISTRE, MARTY;REEL/FRAME:010165/0970
Effective date: 19990712